There is a fetish for each musical genre: rock has the guitar, DJ culture the turntable and sound artists the loudspeaker, if they create installations. Only few sound artists have sound generating devices that do not need a loudspeaker at some stage to fill the space with sound. Therefore speakers are overly present at sound art events, may they be hidden in the installation or the sculptural element itself, as for example in the work of Robin Minard. But imagine the loudspeaker is small like a stamp, transparent, flexible and extremely thin – 1/1,000th the width of a single human hair – what new possibilities could that open for sound art installations? Exactly those properties have been discovered by Chinese researchers working with carbon nanotube films. Their research on – what they call – the thinnest loudspeaker of the world may one day redefine earphones, home stereos and other sound reproduction devices. We may be able to attach the speakers to walls, clothing, the computer screen or a window. It doesn’t even matter if the nanotube sheet is torn, it will still transmit sound. Beautiful prospects for a sound art freed from the bonds of bulky loudspeakers, uh? Only – I assume – it will take some more time to reach the fidelity standards of todays audio solutions, considering this little experiment where the Chinese researchers attached the nanotube foil on a little flag to demonstrate their invention:

…and I doubt those researchers have the best of all musical tastes… Further reading here and here.